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A Forward-Looking Exploration of Wi-Fi: WAA – Informa Tech 2024 Barcelona Roundtable Concludes Successfully

By: Get News

Barcelona, Spain - On the afternoon of February 28, 2024, amidst the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event, a roundtable forum organized by the World WLAN Applications Alliance (WAA), in partnership with Informa Tech drew to a successful close. The forum, sponsored by Huawei as the diamond sponsor, with Changeself Technology(Shenzhen)Co.,Ltd. and TÜV Rheinland as bronze sponsors, focused on the theme of "Creating a Secure and Sustainable Home Wi-Fi Network."

Representatives from numerous industry units including WAA, Informa Tech, Huawei, Changeself Technology, TÜV Rheinland, ABI Research, Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), ZTE, British Standards Institution (BSI), SoftAtHome, Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI), VMware, and others (listed in no particular order), convened in Barcelona. They collectively discussed the three major issues of Wi-Fi: performance and experience, security, and sustainability. The seminar was moderated by Michael Philpott, the research director of Omdia. WAA Secretary-General Yang Tao delivered an opening speech for the meeting.


Yang Tao, WAA Secretary-General

Before the roundtable discussion commenced, Michael Philpott initiated the topic with a preparatory talk. He spoke about the lag between the evolution of home broadband services and changes in home terminal devices, which has led to the home network becoming a bottleneck in extending network capabilities to home terminals. Changing this situation requires not only attention to improvements in hardware technology but also intelligent service platforms that monitor and analyze network conditions and facilitate richer integration of third-party applications - keys to enhancing the home network experience. Besides the dimension of experience, the aspects of security and sustainability should not be overlooked. Providing a secure network will benefit ISPs in better protecting privacy and addressing cybersecurity threats. Building sustainability positions operators for the future, fostering a sense of responsibility that can enhance their brand value.

Thomas Li, Huawei's Chief Scientist of Standards, delivered a speech about WAA's sustainable development. He shared several research directions that WAA will focus on in the future, including: 1. Optimized Joint Source-Channel Coding (JSCC) for lower latency and channel protection; 2. Quantum Time Flip (QTF)-based wave-level signatures against cyber attack; 3. AI-based frequency hopping for interference cancelation; 4. AI-based Listen Before Talk (LBT) design for congestion relief; 5. AI-based Channel State Information (CSI) compression for computational complexity decreasing; 6. … Thomas emphasized that in order to ensure these cutting-edge technological research directions proceed smoothly, it is necessary to build a well-functioning foundation. Besides traditional salons and seminars, a technology sharing resource pool mechanism is also of vital importance.


WBA CEO Tiago Rodrigues

Fan Xu, VP of Huawei's Optical Access Network Product Line and Thomas Li, Huawei's Chief Scientist of Standards

The first roundtable discussion focused on how to significantly improve the performance of home and campus networks. Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the WBA, highlighted the richness and diversity of the Wi-Fi industry ecosystem. Currently, there are over 600 million Wi-Fi networks and more than 18 billion Wi-Fi-capable terminal devices worldwide. Organizations like the WAA are expected to develop better standards to enhance technology and improve the experience. Georgios Karagiannis, WG Standardization Chair of AIOTI, suggested that the WAA should build consensus among different stakeholders through the working group approach, aggregating capabilities, fostering communication and collaboration, and thereby constructing an ecosystem. Focus should be on how to lead, build, connect, and inspire collaboration to tackle challenges and explore technologies. He also advocated for the use of IT deployments to lower the barriers to global collaboration. Zhang Jinlin, Changeself Technology R&D Director, highly praised WAA's contributions to Wi-Fi experience assessment and testing, and also proposed specific testing suggestions, including: 1. Wi-Fi simulation based on real environments; 2. Wi-Fi capability modeling; 3. Traffic simulation; 4. Interference testing. David Mudd, Global Head of Digital Trust Assurance of BSI, emphasized the importance of AI in improving network security and experience. He noted that the use of AI and machine learning could significantly enhance network diagnostics and anomaly detection, thereby improving security measures and user experience. Moreover, Mudd stressed the role of standards in ensuring that these technologies are implemented in a way that is interoperable and that maintains user trust. Vinod Joseph, APAC Field CTO at VMware, discussed the potential of virtualization in Wi-Fi networks, emphasizing how virtual network functions (VNFs) and software-defined networking (SDN) can lead to more agile and flexible networks. He also highlighted the importance of edge computing in reducing latency and improving the performance of real-time applications, which is crucial for the next generation of Wi-Fi. Lionel Gremeau, Product and Market Director at SoftAtHome, shared insights into the development of smart home ecosystems, stressing the importance of Wi-Fi in connecting various smart home devices and providing users with a seamless experience. He also noted the potential for Wi-Fi to act as a platform for new services and applications in the home. Shi Hao, WAA Deputy Secretary-General, believes that home and campus scenarios are complex, with a multitude of technological options available. He advocates for various standards organizations to collaborate closely to address issues related to performance and user experience. He indicated that WAA had already initiated such efforts last year and plans to continue expanding the scope of collaboration this year. WAA Secretary-General Yang Tao expressed his gratitude for everyone’s suggestions, stating that last year WAA had established specialized groups responsible for improving terminal performance and user experience. He looks forward to these groups making even more significant contributions in 2024. WAA is one of the members in the international standards-setting community and in 2023, it established the Technology Standards Community (TSC), which is open to the public, and are forming a close relationship with organizations such as the ITU.

The topic for the second roundtable discussion was: "Maximizing consumer engagement by enhancing security." The discussion was vigorous with participants debating the significant challenges and key elements of constructing a comprehensive security framework, how to balance customer experience with privacy and security, achieving the optimal business model for secure services, and how WAA can advance the global standardization of this field. Vinod Joseph addressed the need for standardization and industry integration, questioning whether every device in a home with many endpoints should be upgraded for security purposes or if the focus should be on upgrading home gateways. He also discussed the selection of firewalls from different manufacturers and the necessity for AI to provide personalized services rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, especially for devices that have high network performance demands, where a balance between security and performance is crucial. All of these issues call for organizations like WAA and related standard-setting bodies to jointly develop standards and build a healthy ecosystem. David Mudd highlighted three points: 1. Security needs to be considered globally, with differentiated control methods across different layers and domains while ensuring default security. 2. There are cultural differences in the understanding of privacy and security. 3. The operation of AI needs to be regulated and ensure process transparency. Thomas Li argued that security design must be based on the scenario; home and industrial scenarios are vastly different. In choosing solutions that balance performance and security, it is essential to ensure lightweight implementations. He used Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) as an example of how to cleverly balance the relationship between the two in specific solutions. Tiago Rodrigues spoke about the challenges of ensuring security in complex current scenarios, including different types of users, devices, applications, services, and even varying regulatory and legislative frameworks across different regions and countries. On one hand, we recognize the complexity of the 'forest,' but on the other hand, we must also care for each individual 'tree.' We need to view issues from an end-to-end perspective while also being pragmatic, or we will face difficulties. Lionel Gremeau also highlighted three points: 1. The same device being used by different users necessitates considering privacy isolation between them. 2. The security construction of the home gateway should be a focal point. 3. Security issues in the operator's network can lead to network collapses, which will also affect the user experience. Senior Analyst Andrew Spivey from ABI Research explored security from a business model perspective. He suggested that operators could offer service packages based on security features, with complex work completed in the background and a simplified interface for the user end.


White Paper Release Ceremony, from left to right:

Li Tian, Fan Xu, Yang Tao, Bin Gan, Andrew Spivey, Jay Yang, Jinlin Zhang.

The release of the "White Paper on the Sustainability of the Wi-Fi Industry" (hereinafter referred to as the "White Paper") undoubtedly became the highlight of this event.  The White Paper Release Ceremony was attended by notable figures including Andrew Spivey, Senior Analyst at ABI Research; Bin Gan, Vice President of Huawei and Head of the Standard & Industry Development Department; Yang Tao, Secretary-General of WAA; Jay Yang, Vice President, Electronic and Electrical Products Services Division, Greater China of TÜV Rheinland; Fan Xu, VP of Huawei's Optical Access Network Product Line; Li Tian, Head of Standard Strategy at ZTE Communications; and Jinlin Zhang, R&D Director of Changeself Technology(Shenzhen)Co.,Ltd.

The White Paper, jointly authored by WAA's Green Energy Efficiency Working Group and ABI, offers critical guidance and analysis on the sustainable development of the Wi-Fi industry for the first time. By considering the policy environment, industry practices, and technological advancements of different regions comprehensively, it enables us to have a clearer understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry in terms of energy efficiency and environmental protection. The White Paper not only identifies the issues but also proposes a series of practical improvement measures and emphasizes the importance of unified standards and regulation, which will profoundly influence the industry's push towards a lower carbon footprint and higher efficiency.

Following the release ceremony, Andrew Spivey gave a brief interpretation of the White Paper. He mentioned the disparate policies, legal regulations, and industry practices related to the sustainability of the Wi-Fi industry across different regions, noting the fragmented nature, lack of unified standards, and insufficient regulatory and enforcement efforts, making it challenging to form a consistent driving force. To better understand the status quo, Andrew provided baseline data on the energy consumption of Wi-Fi-related broadband infrastructure equipment. He conducted a detailed assessment of the power consumption of CPE processors, memory, Ethernet interfaces, and Bluetooth modules, and offered several technical suggestions for improving energy efficiency.

During the subsequent roundtable discussion on Wi-Fi sustainability, the guests engaged in a robust interaction based on the content of the White Paper. Lionel Gremeau stated that the industry should collaborate to disclose power consumption data for CPEs. Sleep modes combined with AI could significantly reduce the power consumption of CPEs. David Mudd added that AI's better role depends on learning from massive data and that AI's application should not be considered solely from a micro or strategic perspective, thus the deployment point for AI should not be the home gateway, but rather the data center. Georgios Karagiannis emphasized that WAA should establish rules as well as quantitative methods and metrics so that a common language can be used to compare the power consumption differences of different solutions, ultimately fostering the goal of environmentally friendly design. Yang Jiajie also agreed on the necessity of a unified calculation of carbon footprints and carbon emissions. He hoped that WAA would assist in building an industry database to ensure the consistency of carbon metrics. Zhang Jinlin shared Changeself Technology's best practices in calculating energy consumption data but also expressed concern about how to ensure fairness and objectivity in assessing the scale of green energy.

At the end of the seminar, Bin Gan, Vice President of Huawei, gave a closing statement. He expressed gratitude for the creative and inspiring discussions from many industry members and partners during the meeting. Through the sharing and collision of ideas, challenges were identified, solutions explored, and the path forward was outlined. He firmly believed that with innovation and collaboration throughout the ecosystem, WAA's vision of "providing the best wireless local area network experience for the digital world" could be realized.

Group photo of roundtable meeting participants

The roundtable concluded successfully in an atmosphere of joint cooperation and in-depth discussion. This roundtable was not only WAA's first international seminar held overseas but also a deep exploration and cooperative opportunity regarding the development direction of the Wi-Fi industry. From enhancing security to promoting sustainability, the meeting focused on the most topical issues, gathering industry elites to contribute their strategies for building a safer, greener digital future. The outcomes of the meeting were significant, with delegates expressing profound insights into these two fields. It is believed that through this discussion, WAA will play an important leadership and exemplary role in the security and sustainable development of the global Wi-Fi industry, jointly facing the challenges and opportunities brought by technological innovation.

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